Close call in Chinook

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Officer Brett Hopkins helps a Kelso boater after he needed to be rescued from Baker Bay near the Port of Chinook last Thursday. The 44-year-old and a 49-year-old companion from Castle Rock were recreational crabbing when they pulled their 17-foot runabout onto East Sand Island to look around. Last week’s strong ebb tides dislodged their boat and the younger man stripped to his underwear to try to swim and retrieve it. Part way to the boat, he realized he couldn’t make it and grabbed onto an old piling, where he was spotted by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter that happened to be in the area. Hopkins arrived at the port and he and port workers took the port’s skiff out to get the men. Pacific County Surf Rescue jet skis made it to the scene first. Hopkins then transported both men back from the island. The swimmer, who was mildly hypothermic after 20 to 30 minutes in the water and cut up from barnacles, declined treatment. Lance Gray in the Lady Mary retrieved their boat from the bay. Hopkins said the man was smart to have stayed on the piling as he would have likely drowned had he reached his boat due to exhaustion while trying to climb aboard.

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